Water authority delays $30 million, 10-year marketing contract with Raiders; seeks input from advisory group

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is delaying action until at least next year on a proposed decade-long, $30 million advertising contract that would see the public agency become a major advertiser at the future Las Vegas Raiders’s Allegiant Stadium.

Scott Huntley, an executive with the water authority, said Monday that the SNWA’s executive team had decided to move the proposed contract from the authority’s Thursday meeting and instead kick it to a January meeting of a citizen’s advisory board.

The initial version of the proposed contract would have seen the water authority pay an annual $2.5 million (with an annual 4 percent increase) to the still-under-construction Allegiant Stadium, which will house the National Football League’s Raiders franchise beginning in 2020. The construction cost of the stadium is partially financed by a 0.88 percent hotel room tax that funds a $750 million chunk of an estimated $1.9 billion cost, approved by lawmakers in a 2017 special session of the Legislature.

The contract would have made the water authority a “founding partner” with exclusive physical, television and radio advertising privileges in the new stadium, but would have marked a major expansion of the agency’s marketing and advertising budget. The water authority’s overall marketing budget for water compliance and conservation is roughly $4.9 million a year, and a spokesman for the authority said in an earlier interview that it spent only about $500,000 total in other advertising arrangements with sports teams at UNLV, minor league baseball team Las Vegas Aviators, Las Vegas Lights FC and the National Hockey League’s Golden Knights.

Huntley said the authority’s leadership had decided to take input from a recently re-formed advisory committee — composed of business and labor leaders, conservation advocates and economists — before making a decision on the contract. 

“They would like to have them consider and make a recommendation regarding moving forward in this way to the board, and then consider it after the advisory committee gets a chance to make that recommendation,” Huntley said.

The board that will take the contract under advisement is called the Integrated Resource Planning Advisory Committee, which held its first meeting under its current membership in October and will include discussion on the proposed contract during its meeting in January, where it will discuss water conservation issues. The 11 members of the committee include:

  • Ken Evans of the Urban Chamber of Commerce
  • Peter Guzman of the Latin Chamber of Commerce
  • Boulder City resident Carol Jefferies
  • Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Andy Maggi
  • Paul Moradkhan of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • Tom Morley of Laborers Union Local 872
  • Bob Murnane of GC Wallace Engineering, on behalf of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association
  • Jonas Peterson, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance
  • Phil Ralston of American Nevada Company
  • John Restrepo of RCG Economics
  • Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resorts Association

The proposed contract would have given the water authority wide advertising and marketing privileges — digital and physical advertising space on TV, radio and social media in both English and Spanish, sponsorship of a two-minute warning, broadcast rights for the football team’s final non-nationally televised preseason game as well as exclusive advertising rights throughout the stadium’s bathrooms. Huntley estimated that the contract would bring an estimated 169 million impressions yearly and help the water authority bring its conservation message to a larger and more diverse audience than a traditional marketing campaign.

But news of the contract attracted opposition from a variety of groups, from the libertarian-leaning Nevada Policy Research Institute to dyed-in-the-wool Democratic Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, who made his concerns with the deal known on Twitter.

“The simplest way to conserve water is to charge more and make the rates more progressive – subsidizing rates with sales tax revenue and then spending $ on advertising to encourage conservation seems counterintuitive,” he tweeted on Saturday.

Updated at 4:37 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22 to reflect that Bob Murnane is representing the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association.